Noisy protesters close in on Port of Seattle
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Police deployed stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse protesters Monday evening at the Port of Seattle, where several hundred anti-corporate demonstrators briefly blockaded a major shipping terminal and then swarmed toward another.
Port officials said the demonstration, part of a wave of port protests up and down the West Coast waged by the Occupy Wall Street movement, had minimal impact on port operations because most offloads and deliveries had been completed earlier in the day.
‘By the time the protesters got there, most of the day shifts were almost over,’ port spokesman Peter McGraw said of the blockade at Terminal 18. ‘Three of our terminals were not impacted at all, and traffic is moving again at the one that was. It’s had just minimal impact to our cargo movement.’
McGraw said longshoremen at Terminal 18, the primary target, already had decided not to work a second shift on Monday -- prompting protest leaders by midafternoon to declare they had shut down the facility.
Whether port workers at Terminal 5 would attempt to go to work later Monday night remained up in the air.
The reported light clashes with police appear to have occurred as a significant group of protesters moved toward Terminal 5 on Monday evening ahead of a scheduled shift change, and police moved in to clear remaining demonstrators from Terminal 18. Some protesters reported they had been trampled by police on horseback.
‘We shut it down! We shut it down!’ protesters shouted from the parking lot at Terminal 5 Monday night.
‘The paddy wagons are here. The riot cops are here. It’s got all the makings of a party!’ Occupy Seattle said on its live feed from the scene.
Occupy Seattle’s spokesman, Mark Taylor-Canfield, said several protesters reported being hit with pepper spray. They also reported the use of stun grenades, which make a loud sound intended to frighten and disperse crowds, though police said they could not immediately confirm that either had been used.
‘This is too fluid and dynamic a situation. Things are happening way too quick,’ Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said in a telephone interview.
He said there had been at least three detentions, though reports from the scene suggested there were more.
Worse was the traffic: Spokane Street near the port was blocked in both directions, not far from where cars were trying to make their way toward Seahawks stadium for Monday Night Football.
In Portland, meanwhile, where an Occupy demonstration shut down two major loading terminals Monday morning, demonstrators regrouped by late afternoon and headed toward another terminal.
‘Now we are headed to Terminal 4, which is about a three-mile walk, and we’re going to shut it down,’ said James Douglas Gless, president of a land development and environmental engineering consulting firm in Oregon City, who joined the protests.
Gless said he decided to participate because of growing frustration with the political process.
‘I’m a 56-year-old corporate president. The last three years were good to me. But I’ve got two kids that have got to grow up in a country that has been stolen by these huge national and multinational corporations,’ he told the Times. ‘What else can we do? We want our votes again.’
--Kim Murphy in Seattle